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A new technology challenges the anonymity of genetic databases

The technology can help in identifying criminals by building mug shots using DNA samples found at the scene of the crime (Representative image: Pixabay) Photograph: (Others)

WION Web Team New Delhi, India Sep 07, 2017, 10.49 AM (IST)

According to a new research, scientists can reconstruct faces using DNA.

Experts claim that the genome consists all the information that defines one's identity. By training an algorithm to link genetic information with facial features and voices, researchers were able to identify the people.

The technological advancement will bring forward the argument of database anonymity and privacy. Research centers frequently collect samples of human genomes from thousands of people to study diseases. In most cases, the volunteers are promised anonymity.

However, the research by Proceedings of the National Academy and Sciences, claims that such anonymity might not be possible in future as the genome itself will be able to determine their facial identity.

On the positive side, the technology can be useful in identifying criminals by building mug shots using DNA samples found at the crime scene.

Researchers were able to match eight out of ten genome samples with their head shots--an 80 per cent success rate. The system was fed with data from only 1000 samples and more data is likely to improve the algorithm incredibly.

"Just like Google and others now sell advertising to you based on what is in your searches and emails, you could get adverts targeted to you based on what's in your genome," Craig Venter from US-based company Human Longevity told Times Of India.

Using the pool of information, scientists will be able to figure out traits of individuals, which could open a vast range of business opportunities. Medical insurance ventures could use the data to find out what diseases a person is prone to and design premiums accordingly.

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